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Village of Salem Lakes Releases Records Subject To Court Order: What We Learned

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Village President Diann Tesar
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Opinion by KCE Editor, Kevin Mathewson

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Monday morning, the Village of Salem Lakes released the last three years of letters of resignation from its Fire Department pursuant to Judge Schroeder’s order. Here is what we learned.

Fire Chief James Lejcar and Captain Steve Ptaszynski
(Photos by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

The Village’s Fire Department lost 33 firefighters/EMTs/paramedics in the last three years. Almost 1 per month. This cannot be seen as anything short of terrible leadership in the department. Terrible leadership that has long gone overlooked and ignored by the Village Board. The Fire Chief needs to go, and so does the village board (Most of it).

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Village Administrator Mike Murdock (Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Village administrator Mike Murdock likely lied under oath. I deposed Mike Murdock during this lawsuit. I asked him several times how many firefighters left the Village in the last three years. After all, Murdock was the second in charge for years at the fire department. He held both roles until KCE started investigating the village and resigned this past December. He told us between two and five. Either he is extremely incompetent, or he lied under oath to protect the incumbents. Either way, he needs to go.

Salem Lakes Village Attorney Rich Scholze
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Village of Salem Lakes Attorney Richard Scholze isn’t a good attorney. For a guy without a college degree, I was sure able to outlawyer this guy who became an attorney in 1988 when I was four years old. Either, he was incompetent at such a simple matter of law, or he deliberately misapplied the law to protect his clients. Either way, he needs to go.

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The Village of Salem Lakes’ leadership will spend taxpayer money to hide things they don’t want us to see. Here is a copy of the check they wrote me after my successful lawsuit. This is only a small fraction, when you compare it to the amount of money that Wanasek, Scholze, Ludwig, Ekes & Wishau SC will invoice the Village for next month. It will be between $4,000 and $6,000 according to a guess by a civil attorney.

Village President Diann Tesar
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

And to wrap it up, the place where the buck stops. The Salem Lakes Village President. She admitted during her deposition that she failed the Village. “I waited too long,” she said. She did indeed. She let the bureaucrats take hold of the government in the small village and she lost control. She let the fire department attack businesses and ignored pleas for help. Now the residents have fought back, in one of the largest grass-roots efforts this county has seen, Tesar is likely to lose her job. She deserves it. She lost focus of her role. She forgot who she reports to – the taxpayers. She learned the hard way that no one stays in power forever.

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The last thing we learned. The American way is still alive after all. When the government fails the people, the people have a right to replace their leaders.

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28 Responses

  1. The arrogance of some people! Hiding. Lying. Misrepresenting. Fraudulent. The people though, get what and who they vote for so this is “on those voting’ as well. If you vote because of name familiarity or the color of the horse, this is what you get. Incompetence. If one hires because of being too lazy to look at what the market can offer, or because the board “likes” a long term employee, then you get more incompetence. I personally don’t think that the number of those leaving is the end of the story. There is more to it. There must be. Wow! 33 firefighters! How does the number of firefighters affect the village? And, 33 over 3 years. Why is that number so important that it needed to be hidden? There must be a reason and I am certain that Diann Tesar, Mike Murdock, Jim Lejcar and all of the board members know the impact. Secrets like this cannot be kept in the village so they must all know. Oh, and the Fire Commission too! Again, why is that 33 number, as high as it is, so important that it needed to be hidden? Are any official reporting documents reflecting the true figures? Or, are those being falsified?

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    1. I will be happy to see the eyerolling and smirking disappear from the meetings. I am very tired of seeing the visible prejudice at every issue whenever she isn’t talking to a friend, someone living on Hooker Lake, at the old bar or at either of the two schools where she had a pulpit. If you didn’t fall into one of those buckets, you just didn’t have a chance.

      She came back before. Maybe next year she will run and get smacked down again. Or, might smack down Denny Faber. Looking at the counts this tme, I would suggest they both exit the campaign.

    2. The Fire Commission can’t fix what was broken by the village board if they don’t know about it. They have been brought into a mess that should have been address by the village board when these business owners started to complain about the inspections. Nobody, filed a complaint, and if they did the Fire Commission never received it to act upon it.

    3. Wasn’t this also a A McFarlane issue in Silver lake under B Nopenz and R Johnson and S Gerber as well? That being the secret- secret of the number of legit firefighters and expired truck tires?

  2. Doesn’t the Fire Chief report to Mike Murdock as the Administrator? Doesn’t the Administrator get monthly reports from the largest department in the village?
    For him to not know exactly, the headcount of the village and the associated payroll is showing a lacking of administrative abilities. How is he measured as being able to perform his job? When does that measurement occur? For an administrator with a dual role in the Fire Department to fail in bringing this to the attention of the board illustrates that he is not performing. If he responds and states that he did tell the board, then I have to wonder which closed session he made the board aware of the declining department! If it were in open sessions, we all would have known about it because our local reporters would have grabbed on that fact bigtime! So, which is it? Did he tell the board, or not? And, when?

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    1. U read that Murdick makes/made about $140,000 a year…for what? Not sure his performance or education warrants an amount like that.

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      1. A lot of employees in Pleasant Prairie office make over 100,000 a year! I believe Steinbrink Jr made 120,000 and SR 140,000! I think these crooked towns all got together and worked it all out to scam all the tax players. I think we should compare notes with all their retirements and pension plans with the small towns in the counties too. I wonder if they are all the same????

  3. The current board wasted taxpayers money trying to stop this information from getting out. What else are they hiding? The key players in this denial of information should be sued. We want our money back. Thanks to Mr Mathewson, the truth is dragged out. These people are using taxpayers money to fight their opposition for political reasons. They don’t care about our money, they will just get more. Vote these morons out today.
    Please VOTE for REAL CHANGE – Bucur-President, Barhyte, Sweeting and Young for Trustee.
    With these new board members we can get back to supporting the Things that will make a difference in our day to day lives. We need a Village Board that works for us, not against.

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  4. Body Language in the photos say it all, FIRE them all and block them from ever being about of are local government again!!!! They should also have to pay back to the town, if not dollars then volunteer work {like picking up Trash or cleaning a park}

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  5. Once a new board is in place, we will find out many other shenanigans this defective board has over seen. This change Salem Lakes board .Com group is what the Village needs, Thanks to these citizens willing to step up. There is hope!!

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  6. Salem Lakes Fire Department is responsible for Salem, Trevor, Wilmot, Silver Lake, Fox River, Camp Lake, and contracts with Brighton and Paddock Lake for Fire and EMS services. Of those 19K people in their service area, (according to information published on the Salem Lakes Fire Department website) they employ 9 Full Time, 14 Part Time, and 39 Volunteers. Of those 62 total on staff, 33 have left in the last 3 years. 53% turnover in 3 years speaks to poor leadership. One has to wonder if the Village of Salem Lakes, or those who contract with them for Fire Service are adequately protected. Knowing that the 33 who left had countless years of experience, you are now left with an understaffed Fire Department with over 50% of the staff being new, and a lack of any discernable leadership. Are they training the new recruits? Perhaps if there is time left after harassing the political opponents of the Village Board. Sadly this LACK OF GOOD LEADERSHIP is putting good peoples lives at risk. Something needs to change BEFORE the black band is put around the badge – when a family loses their firefighter family member.

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  7. WOW….
    This is just as bad as the village of Pleasant Prairie. I hope the village citizens uprise. The village Pleasant Prairie elected officials and administrators are back at their old tricks. People of the village of Pleasant Prairie please wake up. Our taxes goes for corrupt people.

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    1. I think it’s worse than Pleasant Prairie. There Steinbrink, jr. mostly feathered his own cap but otherwise village services were good. Here the administrator and fire chief’s actions impacted the safety of residents, among other things.

  8. The Salem Lakes Board and administration reminds me of one of my previous public employers here in Wisconsin. Not long after being hired, I became aware of the high turn-over of employees in my department and did everything humanly possible to keep my paranoid and abusive manager off my back. Well, tyrants will be tyrants and it wasn’t long before he needed a new punching bag. What’s sad is I was only one of a string of employees that left this public employer over a period of several years. What’s more sad is the Board that oversees this entity did nothing to correct and stop this tyrant from continuing to victimize his subordinates. The governing board was a big part of the problem as well. Because of this egregious and on going abuse of power, I always wondered what they would say if a victimized employee would go off the deep end and resolve to fix it personally. People like these Civil SERVANTS in Salem Lakes need to be exposed and removed from their positions ASAP.
    Thank You Mr. Mathewson.

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  9. These things have been happening for years in this area. Twin Lakes, Silver Lake, New Munster, Burlington, Bristol, Paddock Lake, pick one, and I’ll show you the good ole’ country network. The shot and beer kinda government. It took outsiders from Illinois to expose your dirty asses. Now kick stand up and outlaw your asses to the nearest bar, it’s party time.

  10. Wanted to put out a Thank You to the Firefighters, Paramedics and EMTs that have stayed. They must see and feel first hand what is going on but do it for their community and for the love of the job. Especially those that volunteer! With that many people leaving they must have been short staffed and more time required from the volunteers who most likely have other full time jobs. The leadership is obviously faulty, but a huge Thank You to the Emergency Responders who show up to our doors whenever we need them!

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    1. The fire chief eliminated the volunteers and forced them to work part time hours and if you didn’t work so many shifts a month you were forced to resign.

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  11. Now that a new board is just days away I wonder if some of those 30 who left will come back if/when we get a new chief ??

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